Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Library Thing

Cool site: LibraryThing. The site lets users create a virtual bookshelf (hopefully of books they have actually read, not just ones that look particularly impressive). It also includes reviews of books and an overview of the most popular books (I was disappointed to see Harry Potter ranked so highly above many of the classics).

Regardless, I am excited by this "Rotten Tomatoes" of books because I'm always interested in what others are reading and in finding recommendations for great fiction and non-fiction.

And I think that the name is great (I wouldn't know how to name the site other than "that library thing", unless perhaps the "virtual bookshelf," which is not quite as catchy).

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Don't Get Lost in the Ether

Everywhere I look, I seem to be coming across Ether, a start-up that helps people sell their expertise by phone through telephone consulting.

The idea: You sign up with Ether and specify your fee per call or per minute. Your phone rings and you're notified that it's an Ether call and that the person on the other end is seeking your advice. You bill by the minute or call. Ether takes 10%-15% of the fee.

This seems like an interesting idea, particularly for independent consultants. However, attracting clients and getting the word out about the fact that you can be called for advice for a fee might be more challenging. Just putting up the number on a web site seems to not be as effective as hoped for most users.

There are requests for Ether to incorporate a directory of users on their web site, but Ether is still somewhat in development mode and has not yet committed to such a tool.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

VC Career?

In the last few months, several students have asked me what it takes to become a venture capitalist. And, since it seems once one is asked about red cars, one starts seeing red cars everywhere, I have been picking up various bits and pieces about developing a career in the business.

Today, I came across an interesting article from Red Herring that describes the venture capital industry and profiles a number of very different individuals who have become investors.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Genetics of Entrepreneurship

Always wondering how to explain what seems to be an aberrant tolerance for ambiguity (if not risk) successful entrepreneurs, I was intrigued by a theory by Dr. John Gartner of Johns Hopkins University.

The theory, delineated in Dr. Garnter's new book, Hypomanic Edge, suggests that entrepreneurs (and political leaders) are genetically predisposed to their professions.

My curiousity is peaked, particularly by the suggestion that many entrepreneurs or their parents were first generation immigrants who demonstrated "hypomania" by moving to a strange land to start new lives (and the implications for public policy).

I don't know if I'll get around to reading the book anytime soon (my reading list is looooong), but I'd love to eventually make my way to the book. Particularly because Dr. Gartner is making his way around large corporations helping them to take advantage of the "Hypomaniac Edge." The phrase may very well become a part of the entrepreneurial vernacular.

I'm interested in learning more about the application of the theory to entrepreneurs-at-large (rather than those of the highest profiles) and in better understanding the specific traits that "personify" hypomania.

Also, does this mean that successful entrepreneurship cannot be learned? How much of a role do genetics play in determining success? What is the correlation when the sample size is larger? Maybe the book explain this... .

If anyone reads the book, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Information versus Money

Which is more valuable?

According to the U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Technology, a large federal database of research will be more effective at advancing commercialization that grants bridging the gap between lab and market.

In an interview with MIT Technology Review, the Secretary says that venture capitalists will bridge the gap with early-stage funding once they understand the implications of the research from information provided by researchers.

A concern may be that the research emerging from universities:
1. Is too early stage;
2. Requires a large amount of funding with uncertain payoffs in the very long term
to attract venture capital and angel investors.

Another concern: will venture capitalists have time to review an extensive database of hundreds of researchers?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Universities and Research

A report from the IRS states that university-funded technology incubators and early-stage capital programs do not detract from the nonprofit, educational purpose of the institution.

This fascinating ruling points to an interesting dichotomy in the role of research universities: the focus on basic and highly applied research. If universities had traditionally focused on basic research that eventually (and only possibly) resulted in practical innovations, then will a focus on highly applied research with a focus on commercialization eradicate basic research? And, if so, where will basic research originate to fuel the next innovations?

However, if entrepreneurship is best learned in practice, a shift by universities to support the commercialization of research by faculty members and students may be the most powerful learning tool.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Problem Solvers

Following my last post on blogs as great places for virtual brainstorming, I came across a great list of links from InnovationTools, which lists web sites that use various means of encouraging online brainstorming of solutions to problems.

Some of them may serve as inspiration; some can even make you money.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Interesting Way to Solve Problems

I regularly read Dennis Crouch's Patently-O blog.

I read the comments for a recent entry and realized that the comments (most likely from other patent lawyers) could help in the interpretation of the presented case.

That led me to think that blogs could be very interesting tools for brainstorming solutions to problems. I know that this was also the intent of wikis, but I find the traditional wiki interface confusing if the discussion is on a lengthy topic. Also, quite a few people are still uncertain of how to interact with wikis (we've tried using them as tools for brainstorming with Young Inventors, but they fell short of expectations).

Friday, June 02, 2006

Innovation Methodology

For many months, I had completely forgotten about a nifty methodology for creating new products and spurring innovatioBlogger: Innovators' Hub :: Create Postn: TRIZ.

A method designed by a Russian inventor, TRIZ seems to have re-gained its popularity with corporate innovators, as well.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Women & Angel Investing

The Kauffman Foundation has published a report that shows that high net-worth women are underrepresented among angel investors. Sadly, this does not come as a surprise.

The report also provides details about angel groups founded and managed by women. Many of these will likely sound familiar.
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